“Detachment describes the ease of a mind not adhering, not fixated, and not identified with the fleeting stream of lived events.”—Shaila Catherine, Wisdom Wide and Deep, page 398.

Often people bring negative associations to the term detachment—thinking it implies cold indifference. However, in the context of meditation practice, detachment refers to a vivid and liberating experience of non-attachment. In yesterday’s day long program on the theme of mindfulness of feeling, we considered the Buddha’s teaching:  “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached…” (Samyutta Nikaya 36:6).

Feelings are to be felt, known, understood fully. We intentionally cultivate mindfulness with feeling. We feel our feelings, but with a mind that is detached from the reactivity of desiring more pleasure, and anger at pain. The Buddha’s teaching does not encourage detaching from feeling, but rather it is an invitation to feel feeling detached.